IMVU is an avatar-based social network – think a massively multiplayer online game that focuses solely on social interaction – and it is looking to expand its platform by giving participants games to play, and it’s looking to Africa to find the developers to make it happen.
At the most recent JoziConnect gathering, Nate Levin, producer at IMVU, came to talk about how the company is expanding with Unity integration, “social virtual reality” and creators making money within the network.
What IMVU brings to the table for developers is a Unity API as well as an established community. The network has three million active monthly users and around 100 000 concurrents, and is available as a desktop download, mobile app and soon, as a browser experience.
Currently in development, IMVU’s Unity API will let developers create games for the network which will then be sold inside of its community store. As the play sessions for these tend to be on the shorter side, Levin likens them to mobile games, with developers creating many short experiences and throwing them out to see what sticks.
“Think about King; they made so many games that went nowhere, and then Candy Crush was a success,” said Levin. “They have this business structure where small teams can pitch game ideas every week and be flexible enough to fail until they hit success.”
Developers of the games inside of IMVU can be compensated with a percentage of an in-game currency (which is already built into the game) or with external methods such as Braintree, Paypal and Stripe. This income will come directly from players.
With the launch of the Oculus Rift, virtual reality and its social use is also a draw here. When the API is launched, it will be “VR ready”, which is good because a survey by the company revealed that 70% of its user-base is interested in VR.
What is on offer here is a very unique way of doing game development; having a larger, established user-base comes with the constraints of the environment both in terms of development and business models. If anything else, it’s an interesting venture and we’re glad to see international companies looking for talent in Africa.